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CHRIS RUSH discusses his debut memoir THE LIGHT YEARS, with LUKE GOEBEL

The Light Years (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the thriving businessman dad ran an unspoken tension that, amid the upheaval of the late 1960s, was destined to fracture their precarious facade.

His older sister Donna introduces him to the charismatic Valentine, who places a tab of acid on twelve-year-old Rush’s tongue, proclaiming: “This is sacrament. You are one of us now.”

After an unceremonious ejection from an experimental art school, Rush heads to Tucson to make a major drug purchase and, still barely a teenager, disappears into the nascent American counterculture. Stitching together a ragged assemblage of lowlifes, prophets, and fellow wanderers, he seeks kinship in the communes of the west. His adolescence is spent looking for knowledge, for the divine, for home. Given what Rush confronts on his travels—from ordinary heartbreak to unimaginable violence—it is a miracle he is still alive.

The Light Years is a prayer for vanished friends, an odyssey signposted with broken and extraordinary people. It transcends one boy’s story to perfectly illustrate the slow slide from the optimism of the 1960s into the darker and more sinister 1970s. This is a riveting, heart-stopping journey of discovery and reconciliation, as Rush faces his lost childhood and, finally, himself.

Praise for The Light Years:

"What’s fresh and interesting about The Light Years is its account of gay survivalism—what it’s like to be rejected or adrift from others’ custody; coupling occasionally; at least once in love; and often in profound solitude in the natural world . . . The Light Years is less a queering of the wilderness than a wilding of queerness . . . In the tradition of Henry Adams, Richard Rodriguez, Michelle Tea, the book arrives at its genre: an education." —Brian Blanchfield, The New York Times Book Review

"[A] lucid miracle of [a] literary masterpiece . . . I wanted to talk to him about how he managed to come through the tsunami of the wildest memoir I’ve read, not only alive, but seemingly improved. How did he write a first book in such dazzling, sparkling prose—so incredibly deft in execution, so precise and artistic in naturalistic descriptions—and so loving in human portraiture? How did he get brought from the desert, to share with us this light?"—Luke Goebel, Vice

"The Light Years Is More Than a Queer Coming-of-Age Story. It’s a Quest for the Divine . . . filled with sentences lit from the inside like [Rush's] paintings" —Alexander Chee, Time

"This stunningly beautiful, original memoir is driven by a search for the divine, a quest that leads Rush into some dangerous places . . . The Light Years is funny, harrowing, and deeply tender." —Kate Tuttle, The L.A. Times

"In this vibrant memoir, artist Rush recounts his strange and colorful childhood and adolescence . . . Rush’s storytelling shines as he travels across the country and back again, searching for truth, love, UFOs in New Mexico, peace, something that feels like God, and a place to call home. This is a mesmerizing record of his journey through adolescence." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"In sparkling, lucid prose that perfectly captures the joy, depression, anger, and wonder that characterized his adventures, the author recounts the seemingly endless hills and valleys of his unique tale . . . readers will wish for more from this talented writer." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Chris Rush is an award-winning artist and designer whose work is held in various museum collections. The Light Years is his first book.

Luke Goebel is an Author/Screenwriter from Portland, Oregon. His first co-written feature film starring Jennifer Lawrence is being filmed in New Orleans: produced by A24. His debut novel Fourteen Stories None of Them Are Yours won the American-Book-Review Ronald Suckenick Prize. His second novel is nearing completion. It centers on a cult of opioid addicts who take on the pharmaceutical industry against the backdrop of the 2016 election. He lives in Los Angeles. 

Event date: 
Saturday, August 24, 2019 - 5:00pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Light Years: A Memoir Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374294410
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 2nd, 2019

Fourteen Stories, None of Them Are Yours: A Novel Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781573661805
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Fiction Collective 2 - September 30th, 2014